The Thoughts on Three this week features an ACC vs. Big 10 inter-conference clash and two SEC showdowns: the Boston College Eagles vs. Northwestern Wildcats, the Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Tennessee Volunteers vs. the Florida Gators
#1 Alabama(2-0) vs. Arkansas(1-1)
Where: Razorback Stadium –Fayetteville, AR.
When: Saturday at 3:30 pm EST.
Weather: 70s w/ thunderstorms
Results last season:Alabama 38, Arkansas 14
Final Score: Alabama 30 – Arkansas 9
Alabama defeated overrated Michigan and sleepy Western Kentucky by a combined score of 76-14. Alabama is ranked 4th in the nation in points allowed per game at just 7 points per contest.
On offense, Alabama is averaging 38 points per game. Quarterback A.J McCarron has thrown for 418 yards and six touchdowns on the season to date. Most of McCarron’s damage has been done with wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who has caught six passes for 145 yards and two scores.
To date Arkansas has beat an inferior Jacksonville States quad 49-24 and lost to underdog Louisiana-Monroe 34-31 in overtime. Arkansas is averaging 40 points per game and allowing 29 points per game. Points are not paramount this week with the news that Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson MAY not play against the Crimson Tide. If he does not, then back-up quarterback Brandon Allen will most likely start in his place. Allen relieved Wilson in the last game against Louisiana-Monroe when Wilson was knocked out with a head injury. In relief, Allen had 10 completions out of 27 attempts for 118 yards and one interception. His most glaring stat was NEGATIVE 20 yards rushing on two carries, the result of the Warhawks breaking through the Razorback offensive line for sacks.
Wilson’s head injury and Allen’s negative rushing yards lead me to believe that the Arkansas offensive line is not playing at an SEC caliber level. If the Razorbacks do not block well on Saturday in the rain, it will be a long day for the Arkansas faithful. Expect Alabama to score close to as many points with its defense as Arkansas will score with its offense.
#18 Florida(2-0) vs. #23 Tennessee(2-0)
Where: Neyland Stadium –Knoxville, TN.
When: Saturday at 6 pm EST.
Weather: 70s and Clear
Results last season: Florida 33, Tennessee 23
Final Score: #23 Tennessee 24 – #18 Florida 16
To date this season, Tennessee has defeated preseason top 25 ranked N.C State 35-21, and Georgia State 51-13 . Along the way, Volunteer quarterback Tyler Bray has completed 45 passes for 643 yards and six touchdowns. Four of Bray’s six touchdowns have been thrown to receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson, who have 26 catches and 383 yards.
The Tennessee defense is ranked 38th nationally in points allowed per game with 17.
The Florida Gators enter Saturday having defeated MAAC opponent Bowling Green and new SEC rival Texas A&M. The Bowling Green win was no surprise for the Gators – however, the hard-fought win in College Station was a surprise to some. Florida has a balanced attack on offense with quarterback Jeff Driskel managing the game and running back Mike Gillislee churning up 231 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
It will be the first time in several years wherein the outcome of this contest could determine who wins the SEC East Division, although Steve Spurrier of South Carolina and Mark Richt of Georgia might argue otherwise.
The key to this game will be the Florida secondary. If the Gator secondary can keep track of the Tennessee receivers and defend the passing attack of Tyler Bray, who Brian Griese of ESPN says has the “strongest arm in college football,” then Florida will have a chance. The atmosphere and the Tennessee offense should prove to be too much for Florida, though. The Tennessee defense will not allow more than the 17 points that they have given up per game this season.
Boston College(1-1) vs. Northwestern(2-0)
Where: Ryan Field- Evanston IL.
When: Saturday at 3:30 pm EST.
Weather: 75 and Sunny
Results last season: Northwestern 24, Boston College 17
Final Score: Boston College 30, Northwestern 29
Boston College lost to villainous rival Miami and beat over-matched Maine in Chestnut Hill, Mass. in the first two games of the season. It is apparent that Boston College is led by third-year starting quarterback Chase Rettig, who has thrown for 660 yards, five touchdowns and one interception this season.
Boston College has had a rash of lower leg injuries to their starters, including: Chris Pantale, Jake Sinkovec, Albert Louis-Jean, Colin Larmond, Bobby Swigert, Harris Williams, Brian Miller and Andre Williams. The injuries have people around the program wondering whether or not they are related to the footwear the university has been provided by its athletic sponsor. The injuries do not stop there: California native Rettig has admitted to having a back injury he sustained against Miami. Some believe it is the reason for his average performance against Maine in which he had 16 completions, 32 attempts and 219-yards.
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter leads the Wildcat program. Colter has injury issues of his own. However, head coach Pat Fitzgerald claims that Colter will start on Saturday. This is good news for Northwestern, as Kolter has thrown for 177 yards and one touchdown and run for 106 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Dual-threat quarterbacks have traditionally done well against Boston College. Kolter passed for 197 yards and ran for 71 yards with a touchdown in the victory over BC last year.
Neither defense is awe inspiring, with Boston College ranked 56th and Northwestern ranked 80th in points allowed per game with 22 and 27, respectively.
The keys to this game are not only the play of the injured quarterbacks, but turnovers. Boston College specifically has had six fumbles — four of which were turnovers – and one interception. Turnovers were a major factor in the loss to Miami. Miami scored 17 points off Boston College give aways, and Maine stayed close in the first half last week because of them.
IF Boston College can really limit such errors, then they will have a slight edge.
The limb that I have gone out on with regard to the final score, is holding me up right now. We will see if it is still supporting me at around 7 pm tomorrow, when the clock hits zeroes.